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Fair Work Ombudsman backs Bill to support vulnerable workers

By Claire Hibbit 

Exploitation of workers cannot be stamped out if the settings remain the same, warns Fair Work Ombudsman Natalie James.

In her opening address to give evidence before the Senate Education and Employment Legislation Committee Inquiry into the Fair Work Amendment (Protecting Vulnerable Workers) Bill 2017, James said that despite the successes the Ombudsman has had, “stories continue to emerge”.

“For every one we take to court, there are others we cannot take action against and still others we do not even know about because people are too scared to report them to us,” James said.

“These cases reflect badly on our country and on the majority of employers who are trying to do the right thing.”

The Protecting Vulnerable Workers Bill introduces new civil penalties for ‘serious contraventions’ which are ten times higher than those currently set out in the Act.

This Bill contains a number of measures that would adjust the settings in the Fair Work Act. The measures draw on the References Committee’s report on Australia’s temporary work visa programs, as well as the Fair Work Ombudsman’s work in this area, especially its inquiry into worker exploitation throughout the 7-Eleven network.

Read more here.

This story first appeared in INCLEAN. 

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